Washington man charged with threatening customers at grocery store already victimized by mass shooting

by mcardinal

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News


A man from Washington state faces jail time and a fine after allegedly issuing threats against African American customers and staff at the same Buffalo, New York, grocery store at which a tragic mass shooting occurred earlier this year.

According to a federal complaint filed Thursday in a Seattle federal court, FBI investigators allege Joey David George, 37, made multiple calls to the Tops grocery store, during which he threatened to shoot and kill African Americans and attempted to force an evacuation of the facility.

In the complaint, prosecutors allege George told a store employee he could “make the news if he shot and killed all of the Black people, including all of the women, children, and babies.” He also is alleged to have asked if employees had emptied the store and intimated that he might have been near the establishment already and “was a really good shot and could pick people off from the parking lot.”

George was, in fact, nowhere near the store and still in Washington state, where prosecutors say he attempted to use *67 to block investigators’ ability to trace his call. The following day, according to the complaint, George called the store again, this time ranting about a coming “race war” and saying, “This is what happens in a blue state.”

Using a 90s-era method of blocking caller ID did not prove enough to shelter George from the tracing efforts of the FBI, which rather speedily located him in Lynwood, Washington, and eventually placed him under arrest.

Investigators state that George has a history of making threatening calls to other establishments in other states, and further accuse him of having called a San Bruno, California, restaurant in May and making similar threats to those that are alleged to have been phoned into Buffalo.

“The caller, who identified himself as ‘Tony’[,] threatened to shoot any Black or Hispanic patrons in the restaurant if the restaurant did not close within twenty minutes,” the complaint reads.

Investigators also accuse George of calling a dispensary in Virginia, during which he threatened to kill African Americans, but in this case used a racial slur to describe his would-be victims. He is also accused of having made a threatening call to a Connecticut Denny’s and a Seattle dispensary.

George faces two counts of making interstate threats, a felony that carries the penalty of a fine and up to five years imprisonment.

According to 18 USC 875(c), the law under which George has been charged, it is a crime to communicate “in interstate or foreign commerce any communication containing any threat to kidnap any person or any threat to injure the person of another.”

While any threat is galling to normal, rational people, the alleged communication with the Buffalo store is particularly abhorrent. In May, an 18-year-old gunman opened fire and killed 10 people at the location, an attack motivated by racism.

George has been arrested and is being held in a detention center.